Encore Creativity for Older Adults is the nation’s largest choral organization for seniors with nearly two dozen choruses and chorales in the DMV area and affiliate programs across the country. Based in Maryland, the organization has continued to grow significantly over the last 15 years. This month, the organization will be celebrating its 15th anniversary and honoring founder Jeanne Kelly.
Kelly’s idea for Encore began to take shape in the early 2000s after joining a study for Dr. Gene Cohen’s “The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on the Physical Health, Mental Health and Social Functioning of Older Adults,” which would require her to create two chorales for older adults over 65 years of age to join forces with the Senior Singers’ Chorale she already had running.
Kelly will be conducting this concert— her last before retiring, which will include as many as 600 singers from across Encore’s various programs. This includes Chorales, ROCKS — rock & roll choruses — and Sentimental Journey Singers, a choir for those with early Alzheimer’s and memory impairment and their care partners as well as various online programs.
Mary Ann East, director of the Bailey’s Crossroads Chorale at Goodwin House, joined Encore in 2018 as a chorale director, then helped to launch the Sentimental Journey Singers program in 2019.
In 2020, the organization made an effort to keep things going. “Especially for folks 55 and over, isolation is a concern. A lot of what they come for is not only the singing and the music but for socialization and community,” noted East. Rehearsals moved online and the group did their best to keep members active and engaged.
They later launched their online university program, which offers online music education courses, including music history, conducting and more. This opened up opportunities for people from all over to enjoy everything Encore has to offer and has continued-—even moving beyond music and into movement, art and other classes.
East and her colleagues are currently working to launch another program called “melody makers” which will be “a more therapeutic music activity” for those with later stage Alzheimer’s and dementia. This program will launch in June and run for eight weeks over the summer.
Following Kelly’s retirement, Encore’s new leadership will include Joshua Vickery, Chief Executive Officer, Brian Isaac, Artistic Director, and Mickey Love, Director of Business Operations and Development.
Their anniversary concert will take place on Saturday, May 14th at 3 p.m. at Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Maryland. Additionally, a gala will be held the previous evening at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C.
For more information about Encore, including programs and events, visit encorecreativity.org.